Phosphorylation at the highly conserved serine residues S23 to S25 in the nuclear export protein (NEP) of influenza A viruses was suspected to regulate its nuclear export activity or polymerase activity-enhancing function. Mutation of these phosphoacceptor sites to either alanine or aspartic acid showed only a minor effect on both activities but revealed the presence of other phosphoacceptor sites that might be involved in regulating NEP activity.
The nuclear export protein (NEP) (NS2) of the highly pathogenic human-derived H5N1 strain A/Thailand/1(KAN-1)/2004 with the adaptive mutation M16I greatly enhances the polymerase activity in human cells in a concentration-dependent manner. While low NEP levels enhance the polymerase activity, high levels are inhibitory. To gain insights into the underlying mechanism, we analyzed the effect of NEP deletion mutants on polymerase activity after reconstitution in human cells. This revealed that the polymerase-enhancing function of NEP resides in the C-terminal moiety and that removal of the last three amino acids completely abrogates this activity. Moreover, compared to full-length NEP, the C-terminal moiety alone exhibited significantly higher activity and seemed to be deregulated, since even the highest concentration did not result in an inhibition of polymerase activity. To determine transient interactions between the N- and C-terminal domains in cis, we fused both ends of NEP to a split click beetle luciferase and performed fragment complementation assays. With decreasing temperature, increased luciferase activity was observed, suggesting that intramolecular binding between the C- and N-terminal domains is preferentially stabilized at low temperatures. This stabilizing effect was significantly reduced with the adaptive mutation M16I or a combination of adaptive mutations (M16I, Y41C, and E75G), which further increased polymerase activity also at 34°C. We therefore propose a model in which the N-terminal moiety of NEP exerts an inhibitory function by back-folding to the C-terminal domain. In this model, adaptive mutations in NEP decrease binding between the C- and N-terminal domains, thereby allowing the protein to "open up" and become active already at a low temperature.
The interferon-induced dynamin-like MxA GTPase restricts the replication of influenza A viruses. We identified adaptive mutations in the nucleoprotein (NP) of pandemic strains A/Brevig Mission/1/1918 (1918) and A/Hamburg/4/2009 (pH1N1) that confer MxA resistance. These resistance-associated amino acids in NP differ between the two strains but form a similar discrete surface-exposed cluster in the body domain of NP, indicating that MxA resistance evolved independently. The 1918 cluster was conserved in all descendent strains of seasonal influenza viruses. Introduction of this cluster into the NP of the MxA-sensitive influenza virus A/Thailand/1(KAN-1)/04 (H5N1) resulted in a gain of MxA resistance coupled with a decrease in viral replication fitness. Conversely, introduction of MxA-sensitive amino acids into pH1N1 NP enhanced viral growth in Mx-negative cells. We conclude that human MxA represents a barrier against zoonotic introduction of avian influenza viruses and that adaptive mutations in the viral NP should be carefully monitored.
In contrast to most RNA viruses, influenza viruses replicate their genome in the nucleus of infected cells. As a result, newly-synthesized vRNA genomes, in the form of viral ribonucleoprotein complexes (vRNPs), must be exported to the cytoplasm for productive infection. To characterize the composition of vRNP export complexes and their interplay with the nucleus of infected cells, we affinity-purified tagged vRNPs from biochemically fractionated infected nuclei. After treatment of infected cells with leptomycin B, a potent inhibitor of Crm1-mediated export, we isolated vRNP export complexes which, unexpectedly, were tethered to the host-cell chromatin with very high affinity. At late time points of infection, the cellular export receptor Crm1 also accumulated at the same regions of the chromatin as vRNPs, which led to a decrease in the export of other nuclear Crm1 substrates from the nucleus. Interestingly, chromatin targeting of vRNP export complexes brought them into association with Rcc1, the Ran guanine exchange factor responsible for generating RanGTP and driving Crm1-dependent nuclear export. Thus, influenza viruses gain preferential access to newly-generated host cell export machinery by targeting vRNP export complexes at the sites of Ran regeneration.
To develop a novel attenuation strategy applicable to all influenza A viruses, we targeted the highly conserved protein-protein interaction of the viral polymerase subunits PA and PB1. We postulated that impaired binding between PA and PB1 would negatively affect trimeric polymerase complex formation, leading to reduced viral replication efficiency in vivo. As proof of concept, we introduced single or multiple amino acid substitutions into the protein-protein-binding domains of either PB1 or PA, or both, to decrease binding affinity and polymerase activity substantially. As expected, upon generation of recombinant influenza A viruses (SC35M strain) containing these mutations, many pseudo-revertants appeared that partially restored PA-PB1 binding and polymerase activity. These polymerase assembly mutants displayed drastic attenuation in cell culture and mice. The attenuation of the polymerase assembly mutants was maintained in IFN?/? receptor knock-out mice. As exemplified using a H5N1 polymerase assembly mutant, this attenuation strategy can be also applied to other highly pathogenic influenza A virus strains. Thus, we provide proof of principle that targeted mutation of the highly conserved interaction domains of PA and PB1 represents a novel strategy to attenuate influenza A viruses.
Despite their close phylogenetic relationship, natural intertypic reassortants between influenza A (FluA) and B (FluB) viruses have not been described. Inefficient polymerase assembly of the three polymerase subunits may contribute to this incompatibility, especially because the known protein-protein interaction domains, including the PA-binding domain of PB1, are highly conserved for each virus type. Here we show that substitution of the FluA PA-binding domain (PB1-A(1-25)) with that of FluB (PB1-B(1-25)) is accompanied by reduced polymerase activity and viral growth of FluA. Consistent with these findings, surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy measurements revealed that PA of FluA exhibits impaired affinity to biotinylated PB1-B(1-25) peptides. PA of FluB showed no detectable affinity to biotinylated PB1-A(1-25) peptides. Consequently, FluB PB1 harboring the PA-binding domain of FluA (PB1-AB) failed to assemble with PA and PB2 into an active polymerase complex. To regain functionality, we used a single amino acid substitution (T6Y) known to confer binding to PA of both virus types, which restored polymerase complex formation but surprisingly not polymerase activity for FluB. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the conserved virus type-specific PA-binding domains differ in their affinity to PA and thus might contribute to intertypic exclusion of reassortants between FluA and FluB viruses.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.